The week in watching: Anticipating John Oliver’s return, revisiting Lorena Bobbitt, adoring rescue dogs

Lorena Bobbitt wiped away tears during her 1994 trial. A new Amazon docu-series looks back at the high-profile case.
J. Scott Applewhite/Associated Press
Lorena Bobbitt wiped away tears during her 1994 trial. A new Amazon docu-series looks back at the high-profile case.

Your TV GPS, Globe TV critic Matthew Gilbert’s look at the week ahead in television, appears every Monday morning on


I know when to put down a book. I’m a slow reader, and life is too short to push through thousands of words that don’t speak to me.

But TV series can be harder to shrug off, especially if you’re emotionally invested. When do you let go of a show that’s lost your interest, when do you start ignoring the episodes collecting on your DVR or asserting themselves on your Netflix account, and let them accumulate into an obligation that you ultimately will shirk?

After all, with some much good TV out there to choose from, no one needs to settle anymore.


I’m having those feelings about the new TNT series “I Am the Night,” which is just OK, something like the similar “Aquarius” before it, which I dropped midstream. Already, I don’t much like the affectations of “True Detective”-like mystery and the one-dimensional characters, and I find the morally conflicted journalist at the center of the story little more than a cliche, despite an energetic performance by Chris Pine.

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My advice to myself: Drop it. Life is too short. Don’t waste your precious loyalty on TV shows.

Other shows I’ve had to say “I’m just not that into you” to recently: “Maniac,” the Netflix series from Cary Joji Fukunaga starring Emma Stone and Jonah Hill. I was all admiration until I was bored stiff.

I said goodbye to Hulu’s “Castle Rock,” about the Stephen King-verse, because the plot didn’t compel me. The plot of Amazon’s “Jack Ryan” did compel me — to write off the show as a stale “Homeland.” “Orange Is the New Black” squeezed out every last bit of my patience during the riot season; I had no more will to watch after that.


Eric Liebowitz/HBO
John Oliver returns to HBO’s “Last Week Tonight” Sunday.

1. The news is exhausting. There’s too much of it these days, and that’s before it all gets chewed up, swallowed, and regurgitated over and over again by social media. Here’s a corrective (aside from “Friends” reruns): “Last Week Tonight With John Oliver” returns to HBO Sunday at 11 p.m. for its sixth season. Oliver’s show, a topical comedy that does reporting work on overlooked topics, is focused, fierce, and funny.


2. I’m excited about this one for a few reasons. First, it’s from Simon Rich, the guy who made “Man Seeking Woman,” the three-season FX series that was borderline brilliant. Second, it’s a workplace comedy that’s set in Heaven, triggering thoughts of the philosophical “The Good Place.” Third, Steve Buscemi plays the big boss, a.k.a. God, as a bored CEO. And fourth, Daniel Radcliffe stars as . . . an angel. “Miracle Workers” premieres on TBS Tuesday at 10:30 p.m. (You can watch the first episode now, here.)

3. Who’s a good viewer? Who likes cute dogs? Who wants to support the adoption of rescue dogs? Who’s gonna watch “American Rescue Dog Show” on Hallmark on Sunday at 8 p.m.? (Monday the 18th, too.)

4. A number of dated news stories appear different these days, since #MeToo has shined its light. To wit, the tale of Lorena Bobbitt, who famously cut off her abusive husband’s penis in 1993 in Virginia. Amazon’s “Lorena,” executive produced by Jordan Peele, is a new look back at the case. The four episodes of the docu-series will drop on Friday.

5. Don Cheadle makes his “Saturday Night Live” hosting debut this week, with Gary Clark Jr. as the musical guest.

6. It was the symbol of 1970s decadence, and a legendary New York spot that redefined what a nightclub could be, and now it’s a documentary featuring interviews with the club’s co-creator, Ian Schrager. “Studio 54,”from filmmaker Matt Tyrnauer and which has a score of 70 on Metacritic, is airing on A&E Monday at 10 p.m.


7. Having watched Netflix’s “Russian Doll” twice, I am now captivated by Natasha Lyonne, whose sense of humor reaches me big-time. She’s on CBS’s “The Late Show With Stephen Colbert” on Wednesday, along with Trevor Noah. Meanwhile, Jimmy Fallon will be celebrating his fifth anniversary on NBC’s “The Tonight Show” with a week highlighting social causes — including “Sesame Workshop” on Monday, “TOMS’ End Gun Violence Together Campaign” on Tuesday, and Tim Tebow’s foundation for kids with special needs on Wednesday.

8. I’m curious about the Netflix series “The Umbrella Academy,” which drops on Friday; I generally don’t go for superhero stuff, but this one may be different enough to lure me in. It’s about siblings with special abilities who reunite after years apart when their adoptive father dies. Soon they are involved in a time-travel plot to — you guessed it — save the world.

9.“Weird City” is a sci-fi anthology comedy created by the extremely busy Jordan Peele and former “Key and Peele” writer Charlie Sanders. Set in the future city of Weird, where the Haves stay separate from the Have Nots, the six-episode season features tons of stars, including Rosario Dawson, Michael Cera, Steven Yeun, Laverne Cox, Gillian Jacobs, Mark Hamill, Awkwafina, LeVar Burton, Ed O’Neill, Dylan O’Brien, Yvette Nicole Brown, and Sara Gilbert. It drops on YouTube Premium on Wednesday.

10. This New Zealand Netflix movie sounds like a crack-up. “The Breaker Upperers” is about two women who start a business breaking up couples. Check out the trailer here. It’s available Friday.

Delta Goodrem stars in Lifetime's “Olivia Newton John: Hopelessly Devoted to You.”
Kelly Gardner/Lifetime
Delta Goodrem stars in Lifetime's “Olivia Newton John: Hopelessly Devoted to You.”


“The Pacific: In the Wake of Captain Cook”

A six-part documentary, with Sam Neill retracing Captain Cook’s voyage across the Southwest Pacific. Ovation, Thursday, 10 p.m.

“Ken Jeong: You Complete Me, Ho”

The comic’s first-ever stand-up special, filmed by “Crazy Rich Asians” director Jon M. Chu. Netflix, Thursday

“Larry Charles’ Dangerous World of Comedy”

Larry Charles — “Seinfeld” writer and “Borat” and “Bruno” director — travels the world to find comedy in this four-part series. Netflix, Friday

“Proven Innocent”

A new legal drama co-created by Danny Strong of “Empire” starring Rachelle Lefevre, Kelsey Grammer, and, from “Mad Men,” Vincent Kartheiser. Fox, Friday, 9 p.m.


Lena Waithe and Halle Berry co-produce this 10-episode reimagining of the 1992 movie of the same title, and it will follow the kids of the original characters. BET, Tuesday, 10 p.m.

“Olivia Newton-John: Hopelessly Devoted to You”

Her private life, her public life, it’s all here, with Australian actress Delta Goodrem in the lead role. Lifetime, Saturday, 8 p.m.


Elvis Presley Enterprises
“Elvis: All Star Tribute,” an NBC special hosted by Blake Shelton, recreates Elvis Presley’s “’68 Comeback Special” with an array of performers.

“Elvis: All Star Tribute” is a two-hour NBC special, hosted by Blake Shelton, that recreates Elvis Presley’s “’68 Comeback Special” as a tribute concert. Here’s the list of songs and performers for the show, which airs at 9 p.m. on Sunday.

“Trouble”/”Guitar Man” – Blake Shelton

“Hound Dog” – Shawn Mendes

“Burning Love” – Keith Urban

“Baby, What You Want Me to Do” – Keith Urban and Post Malone

“Jailhouse Rock” – John Fogerty

“Can’t Help Falling in Love” – Ed Sheeran

“Always on My Mind” – Kelsea Ballerini

“Heartbreak Hotel” – Jennifer Lopez

“One Night” – Darius Rucker

“Suspicious Minds” – Blake Shelton

“Love Me Tender” – Alessia Cara

“Memories” – Mac Davis

“A Little Less Conversation” – John Legend

“Are You Lonesome Tonight” – Little Big Town

“Blue Suede Shoes” – Adam Lambert

“Love Me” – Pistol Annies

Hits Medley (“That’s All Right,” “Don’t Be Cruel,” “Blue Suede Shoes”) – Mac Davis, Post Malone, Little Big Town, Darius Rucker, and Blake Shelton

Gospel Medley (“How Great Thou Art,” “He Touched Me,” “You’ll Never Walk Alone”) – Carrie Underwood and Yolanda Adams

“Little Sister” – Dierks Bentley

“It’s Now or Never” – Josh Groban

“If I Can Dream” – Elvis Presley’s original vocals, Carrie Underwood, Shawn Mendes, Post Malone, Darius Rucker, Blake Shelton



A twisted and yet emotionally satisfying look back at the traumas of seventh grade.

“Russian Doll”

In this refreshing eight-episode comedy-drama on Netflix, Natasha Lyonne is stuck in a “Groundhog Day”-like loop on her 36th birthday.

Matthew Gilbert can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @MatthewGilbert.